Improving Building Safety – Windows
Building Structures and Safety
If you live in a single family home, there are a number of things you can do to make your home safer. Of course, each home is different. The risks associated with YOUR home will depend, in part, on its age (which may determine what building codes were in effect when it was built), style (one or two story, big windows, overhangs, etc.) and quality of construction.
However, the safety of nearly every home can be improved.
Let’s start with a study of windows.
Large panes of glass can be the “weak point” of the home. If you have the chance, stay away from them!! during an earthquake, windstorm or tornado.
Improving your chances with windows.
When windows break, shards may all or be thrown across the room. You can mitigate flying shards by:
a. Installing tempered safety glass. It breaks or crumbles into small pieces. They may cut but probably won’t kill. Since 1977 Federal law has required that tub and shower enclosures be made of safety glass.
b. Installing solar/safety film (“window tinting”). When properly installed, this film is invisible and has double benefits: it saves energy AND keeps the windows from shattering. If you sleep under a window, installing solar film is the easiest and safest preventive measure.
c. Pulling drapes or shades. If you know danger is coming, pull down and close shutters or draw drapes. They will offer some protection against flying glass.
Look up from your computer right now.
Are you seated near a window that could blow out or break? Is there a safer place in this room? Action item: take a tour of your whole house to identify the safest place in each room, away from breakable windows — and preferably under a sturdy piece of furniture.
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
P.S. Windows are only one danger point. In an earthquake nearly every movable item could become a missile! For more ideas about improving the safety of your home, check out this recent Advisory: Secure Your Space.
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